Out of silence all things are made manifest.
But the stuff of silence is complex. It has many faces.
In meditation we seek to sit in the silence between our thoughts, that place of no-thing-ness. In our ever busier lives, there is a soul yearning for this kind of silence. It is the same place we reach in deep dreamless sleep. But to do this while conscious is a worthy aspiration.
From the silence we can pluck a thought, a word, and idea. It is when we are relaxed that the brilliance of the Universe most finds access to us. When we let go of remembering the name we have forgotten…it finds us.
It is in silence we can sit with another human being and truly be with them. Not doing, not wanting, not seeking. But to do this requires great comfort with our own not doing not wanting not seeking. As well as the comfort to be present to another.
It is in silence that we lose our voice. That we are too afraid to speak what we want or need to speak. That the words become stuck, inhabiting a world somewhere deep inside, like orphaned children, lost to love. It starts somewhere in our early life, when speaking extracts a high price. Scorching shame, wrath, ridicule, criticism and isolation from our tribe. So we hold our tongue. And the habit continues. Until we find ourselves in our silence saying yes to things we have little desire for. We say yes to a job, or a rule, or a marriage, or sex, or being attacked, because the word for no is lost to us.
It is in silence that we fall into the abyss of depression, lost in our inner word where all the words are at war with each other. Until one day even they stop fighting and we succumb to hopelessness, and in our hopelessness we forget even the words that were fighting.
We use silence as a weapon to punish. It can be the ultimate cruelty. Our withdrawal from connecting with another, even in touch.
Not speaking can be lying. All the myriad things we withhold in our silence. The flirting we did today at the office, the affair we had last summer, the task we did not do. Whole worlds can be held in the place of silence, separate from another, yet ultimately enabling a lie.
Silence can be an indication of our dissent. We stay silent in disapproval, a whole stream of unsaid words present in the silence.
We stay silent because it is easier. Silent to the lies of others, to cheating of politicians, to the crazy stupid rules and bureaucracy that we deal with every day at work, to the person who treated another badly or the service that was delivered so ineptly. Our silence is our laziness, our carelessness. But in this silence we have no rights. We lose them in our very silence.
It is in silence that we are captivated by beauty, awe, nature and love. Words lose their ability to express anything of what we observe and feel. The only reverent act is silence.
Silence we gift to another human being to allow them to find their voice. This silence is gracious and open, with infinite patience. It is this silence we bring to the Dare to Care conversation. There is no judgement, no ridicule, no shaming. The other feels safe and respected. If we bring enough grace to this silence people will voice words they have rarely if ever spoken. This is the greatest privilege. To bare witness to the soul spoken.
“Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing.”
― Rachel Naomi Remen
Silence is the discipline to say nothing when there is nothing to be said. It is the courage to stay silent. To not fill a space with meaningless words. To be comfortable in the not speaking. To not add when there is nothing to add.
“You talk when you cease to be at peace with your thoughts; And when you can no longer dwell in the solitude of your heart you live in your lips, and sound is a diversion and a pastime. And in much of your talking, thinking is half murdered.”
― Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
Silence is the path to our soul. It is the place we find our true voice. If we stay present in silence, with a blank canvass of listening, then we will find our voice, our truth. In this silence we do not seek. We allow silence to speak for us. This is the silence of trust, and faith, and patience. In this silence the great mystics of the ages spend a large part of their day. It is said the Dalai Lama spends up to four hours a day in meditation. Every day, for 70 years.
“The true contemplative is not one who prepares his mind for a particular message that he wants or expects to hear, but is one who remains empty because he knows that he can never expect to anticipate the words that will transform his darkness into light. He does not even anticipate a special kind of transformation. He does not demand light instead of darkness. He waits on the Word of God in silence, and, when he is answered it is not so much by a word that bursts into his silence. It is by his silence itself, suddenly, inexplicably revealing itself to him as a word of great power, full of the voice of God.” Thomas Merton
“Realize this – your anger with God does not drive a wedge between you and Him. It is your silence that drives the wedge. – Prodigal Life”
― Pauline Creeden
When we are willing to journey to the silent spaces within us we find our lost treasures, the forgotten bits, the broken bits, the parts of us that were shamed into hiding.
It is in this silence that we find our voice.